Marketing Tips From Sherlock Holmes

20080314_sherlock_holmesHere at ALH we aim to not only feature New Orleans’s most creative women but to help budding entrepreneurs make a successful go of it with tips and lessons learned along the way. Which brings me to this confession: I’m obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. Not only was I a very young devotee of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, I, like most red blooded women, pretty much lose it over Benedict Cumberbatch in the latest rendition of the deductive reasoning sleuth (for the record, this pretty much sums up my feelings on him).

Sherlock’s tales hold a special place in my heart as I grew up listening to his and Watson’s adventures on long car rides from wherever we were living at the time to New Orleans, our home base. Dad would rent a new Sherlock book on tape from the local library and we’d stare out the window as the good doctor counseled his genius, albeit odd ball, friend.

As luck would have it I’ve learned a few things from the world’s most famous detective that translate quite well into my daily tasks as an entrepreneur working in marketing and social media. Here’s 3 lessons in marketing from Holmes himself that anyone can apply:

1) The most obvious answer is usually wrong.

There’s something to be said for asking the right questions. Assuming you know what your target audience wants, thinks or likes based off of a quick glance at your social media analytics is probably a bad idea. Dig deeper. Ask why. See if there’s something you’re not taking into account. They may like your product/service, but are they using it as it was intended? Often consumers are your best brainstormers. Find out what they’re utilizing your product or service for most and tailor your message to suit their needs.

2) Good listeners are hard to come by, but boy are they valuable.

Sherlock once told his dear friend, “You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion.”

When crafting a new marketing plan or pitch there are a lot of components to consider – message, timeline, mediums, custom content, data gathering – the list never ends. A listener is a great asset to a marketing director and one shouldn’t underestimate the value of a good “talk it out” session.  Crafting the plan of action in your head is useful, but I find if you sit down and verbally run through the whole plan, step-by-step, with a willing sounding board you find loopholes and issues you didn’t originally see. Then you can head potential problems off before they occur. Sherlock had Watson. You have someone who will suffice – a co-worker, spouse, friend, dog maybe? Just make sure you buy them a drink or two as thanks for sitting through your pitch.

3) The story isn’t over until you say it is.

In every Sherlock tale there’s a moment at the end where, after off-the-wall comments and weird analytical questions, Holmes calmly and carefully explains the whole mystery to everyone as they wait with baited breath. When running a marketing campaign, the same thing holds true. You need to run through everything publicly when it’s all said and done. If you don’t post a recap and toot your own horn, no one knows when to applaud your brilliance. A campaign is only as good as the story you can tell at the end. Don’t be afraid to broadcast your own successes and accolades. Post, humbly pat yourself on the back, and move on to the next big idea.

 This post originally appeared on, a website I founded that served as a site to inspire creatives & entrepreneurs to obtain a better work-life balance. The site garnered over 78,000 views. It has since been discontinued.